Last night saw a good hours discussion around the recent desecration of a Bible by some Islamic students and how we as Christians should respond. We did, admittedly go off on all kinds of tangents about mass Bible productions, the worth of the actual paper and ink/ideas…
Two arguments were put forward as to how the principal of the school responded. One in regard to the individual students and how the expulsion was unnecessary and how deeply affected their lives would be from here on in, how a cycle of acting in favor to the ‘greater’ community does not change people’s attitudes towards the Islamic community and how perhaps they should have ‘yes acknowledged it was an immature act’ but still defended their own (I might have this one slightly wrong, no doubt Tim can step in through a comment and explain) and the alternate: the principal did what he could and acted out of utmost respect for those in and outside the community and in doing so has set quite a good example – no it may not have been in absolute best interests of the kid’s futures (and I hope that they are being counseled or the like) but there were other means of ensuring them being satisfactorily settled in new schools… Both sides carry weight.
Therein was the argument that led toward the acting upon a moral conscience over the political – would it have been dealt with differently if the story was not leaked to the press? Would Christian schools act in the same manner if they found students burning a Koran (yes there are many variables – the Koran is not a Holy Book for Christians, unlike the esteem the Bible is upheld in)?
There is much to be learned here about respect for one other.
I was talking later with Geoff and we determined that perhaps you cannot separate your political decision from the moral one in that kind of situation (or any that dictates a like response). Yes we are called to love, yes we are called to show grace. To the individual? To the masses?
Oddly enough, this morning saw me delving somewhat impatiently into the middle of a chapter on ‘election’ in the John Piper book The Pleasures of God. After my early confusion the other day I’ve worked out that the whole flipping long chapter is about predestination in some way shape or form (some people define the two separately).
I find talking about and reading about this kind of thing frustrating in that a good bit does make sense and there is heaps to Biblically back it up, but at the same time there appears to be gaping holes and room for far too much paradox in the theology for such a, ‘I like things concluded logically’ person.
Why mention this after talking about a news issue that has seemingly zip to do with election?
If I was in the situation of the Islamic principal I would have acted in a like manner. This reflects somewhat on my own view of, ‘for the greater good’ (I think?) and how a public life can effectively show love to others in ‘just’ decision making.
Predestination/Election and the arguments around it seem to point to two wills/ways: divine election (God chosen) and God’s desire for everyone to be saved.
Piper wanders around explaining things (and I haven’t yet read the extended section of it in the appendix) and quotes Robert L. Dabney (Presbyterian minister about 100 years ago) as to how it may work,
“…In other words, God has a real and deep compassion for perishing sinners. His expression of pity and his entreaties have heart in them. There is a genuine inclination in God’s heart to spare those who have committed treason against his kingdom. But his motivation is complex and not every true element in it rises to the level of effective choice. In his great and mysterious heart there are kinds of longings and desires that are real – they tell us something true about his character. Yet not all these longings govern God’s actions. He is governed by the depth of his wisdom through a plan that no ordinary human deliberation would ever conceive (Rom 11:33-36, 1 Cor 2:9). There are holy and just reasons for why the affections of God’s heart have the nature and intensity and proportion that they do.”
I am at no more of a final conclusion around what I believe about predestination than i was before. I can grasp at shards of how it all works together, how election is different from predestination and how being chosen and saved and everything else fits together, but I don’t really get it.
I’m not sure if I have very well explained the parallel that I found between the two issues. There is the individual (the chosen?), there are the rest of us.
I am glad that we can boast in the prowess of the decision making ability of God (which is the only way we can tangibly/humanly explain what we see happening) and that He really knows what he’s doing even when we aren’t confident in the ‘right way’.